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Release Date: 01/07/1997
Contact Information: Liza Judge, EPA (617) 918-1067 U.S. Department of Justice (202) 514-2008 U.S. Attorney (203) 773-2108 x 3022

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The United States today sued Raymark Industries for past and future cleanup costs at the Raymark Industries Superfund Site in Stratford, Connecticut, estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency to total over $192 million.

From 1919 to 1989, Raymark manufactured friction products, including brake linings and clutch facings, disposing of lead, asbestos, PCBs and other hazardous substances at the Raymark Facility and other locations in the Town of Stratford. The State of Connecticut also filed suit today to recover the estimated $20 million it expects to spend for its share of the cleanup and maintenance costs.

The complaints, filed today in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, name Raymark Industries, Inc. and R.E. Laukhuff, as trustee for the Stratford Trust, as defendants. In addition, the 33-acre Raymark Facility in Stratford, which is part of the Superfund site, was named as a defendant, in order to facilitate judicial sale of the Facility to recoup a portion of the federal and state governments' cleanup costs.

Raymark is liable for reimbursing EPA for the $81 million in cleanup costs it has incurred to date, and all future cleanup costs, which are estimated at $111 million.

R.E. Laukhuff is named as a co-defendant because Raymark attempted to transfer its ownership of the contaminated Raymark Facility to Mr. Laukhuff as trustee for the Stratford Trust, a trust Raymark says was established for the benefit of its pensioners. Raymark attempted to transfer ownership of the facility to the trustee immediately after EPA notified Raymark that a Superfund lien would be placed on the property. None of Raymark's pensioners is named as a defendant or is potentially liable in this action.

The United States' position, as set forth in the complaint, is that the transfer is void as a fraudulent transfer and Raymark is still liable for the Superfund cleanup costs as the current owner of the contaminated property. If the court voids the transfer of the property, Mr. Laukhuff will no longer be a defendant in the case.

"It's time for Raymark to step up to the plate and do the right thing by taking responsibility for its actions," said Lois Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "It is absolutely essential that those responsible for environmental contamination pay their fair share of the cleanup costs."

"EPA is committed to the Raymark cleanup and the future redevelopment of the Facility. We will continue to move forward and to work closely with the Stratford community and the developer," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's Regional Administrator. "I look forward to a bright future for this Site."

Christopher F. Droney, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut noted the anticipated economic benefits to be realized by the local community from the judicial sale of the Raymark Facility and its commercial redevelopment.

If the United States prevails on its claim to recover against the Raymark Facility to satisfy EPA's Superfund lien on the property, it will be sold at a judicial sale and proceeds will be paid to the State of Connecticut and to the EPA Superfund as a partial recovery of the cleanup costs at the Site. Once the cleanup is completed, the Raymark Facility can be redeveloped by a new owner for commercial use.